When it comes to being a public speaker, the type of speech to give depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. The different types of public speaking are:
- Speaking to Inform (informative, argumentative speech)
- Speaking to Persuade, Motivate, or Take Action (persuasive, argumentative, controversial, policy speeches)
- Speaking to Entertain (funny, special occasion speeches)
In this article:
The 3 Basic Types of Public Speaking
- To Inform – when the speaker is presenting interesting facts or lessons to the audience, or explain how to go about doing something. This could be a teaching lecturing about the Civil War, a student giving an oral report or showing how to decorate a cake or set up a blog, a museum docent explaining the history of painting, or a doctor explaining a procedure.
- To persuade, Motivate, or Take Action – this is when the speaker will try influencing the audience in some way. The speaker might be trying to change your mind about something, to persuade you to change your opinion, to motivate to change a behavior, or to take action. Some examples are explaining the benefits of a non-profit for the purpose of eliciting donations, trying to get people to change bad eating habits by explaining all the benefits of eating healthily or attempting to convince people to vote against a candidate in an election.
- To Entertain – this type of speaking is often found at events like banquets, weddings, or dinners. The speaker is usually sharing a funny story or other anecdotal information. Some examples of this would be the best man speech at a wedding or an after-dinner speech given by a host of a party to thank guests for coming. They could also be planned as entertainment at an event. Topics are usually humorous and light and could serve a very specific purpose, like introducing a featured guest or giving a toast.
Different Types of Public Speeches
When making a speech, choosing an appropriate topic is obviously the first and most vital step of the process. This is never more true than when a persuasive speech must be constructed. It is important for the speaker to realize that the audience may already have an opinion on the topic, or may form an instant opinion during the opening lines of the presentation. This puts the speaker at somewhat of an instant disadvantage if he or she wishes to persuade those listening to alter their own viewpoints.
When choosing a persuasive speech topic, the speaker should choose a subject area about which they are passionate. This passion will come through in the delivery of the speech and will aid the audience in identifying with the speaker. On the other hand, if the speaker feels apathetic about their chosen topic, that will show as well. It will be difficult for the audience to care about the topic if the speaker obviously does not.
In order to hold the attention of the audience, the speaker should remember several things.
- using descriptive language to create vivid mental pictures will keep the audience entertained.
- stirring emotion in the audience will provoke them to care about the subject. After all, if listeners don’t care about a topic they’re unlikely to stay focused or form an opinion on it.
- it’s important to find an angle for the chosen topic which has not been overdone in the past. For example, most people agree that smoking cigarettes is bad for their health, and will most likely be bored by a speech on this topic. If the speaker wishes to address a tobacco topic, perhaps they should narrow the focus of the speech to controversial laws, higher taxes, or methods to prevent smoking in youth. Choosing a fresh, new angle on a familiar topic will help the speaker to create a captive audience.
Speakers should always remember that the point of a persuasive speech is to convince the audience to consider a particular point of view. Therefore, it is vitally important that the speaker diligently research their topic, because a fully informed speaker will come across as much more convincing. A question-and-answer session at the end of the speech is the perfect way for the speaker to close his argument. This will demonstrate to the audience that the speaker genuinely cares about their concerns, and it gives the speaker a chance to clarify any lingering misconceptions that may exist within the minds of the audience. When choosing a topic for a persuasive speech, speakers should keep this in mind and select a subject area with which they feel comfortable and knowledgeable.
Writing the text for Persuasive Speech
There are three main components of persuasive speech structure:
You can also include
- Questions and answers session at the end of your speech but this is optional.
- Grab attention. Do or say something shocking, intriguing, or dramatic to get attention of the audience from the very first minutes.
- State your topic. Announce what your speech is about, and your position.
- Preview statement. Introduce main points of your speech.
Further information on writing the introduction.
- Introduce your topic. You need to explain your topic to those people who do not know about it. Do not go into the details, simple definition is enough. This speech element is required.
- Explain your point. This is where you explain your view in detail.
- State your point
- State a Reason
- Give an Example
- Restate the Point
Not to confuse the audience, you want to keep the number of points low. Best is to limit your speech to three main points.
Further information on writing the speech body.
- Summary. Restate thesis and main points.
- Call to action.
Further information on writing the speech conclusion.
First, you need to pick a topic that will appeal to your audience members. To be appealing to audience members, a topic must be:
- Dealt with at a stimulating level: If you are merely teaching the audience information that they already know, you will certainly bore them. If you teach them information that is “over their heads”, you will lose their attention and interest. The key is to find a happy medium, new information that they will readily grasp.
- Dealt with creatively: Surprise your audience. Think about your topic in unexpected ways. Don’t merely step behind the podium with a modified version of an essay you wrote in another class. Be an entertainer. When an audience is entertained, they pay closer attention.
Your audience will also appreciate it if you pick a topic that is relevant to their lives. Whether we care to admit it or not, deep down, we all have one primary interest: ourselves. If your audience does not see a personal benefit that they will receive by listening to your speech, the speech will not be very appealing. When presenting an informative speech, it is important to have proper supporting material to enhance your audience’s understanding of your topic. Some forms of support include:
- Examples – It’s difficult to listen to someone speaking about an abstract idea with which you have little familiarity. As a listener in this situation, you are forced to do a lot of mental work and you may or may not fully grasp what the speaker is trying to say. It’s a whole different experience when the speaker uses an example that illustrates the abstract idea. For example (ha-ha), a speaker might be talking about poor economic conditions in a certain area of the country. Rather than just leaving the concept of a “poor economy” as an idea, they should speak about the specific struggles of real live people with names and anecdotes.
- Statistics – People tend to avoid statistics in a speech because they are afraid that people will find them boring. To the contrary, statistics can be interesting and informative if used correctly. The key is to pick statistics that are particularly startling or shocking. You can’t build an entire speech around statistics, of course. However, as long as the statistics add to the quality of the speech, and they don’t misrepresent the situation, they can be used liberally.
- Facts – A good informative speech is filled with facts. A “fact” is any bit of information that be verified as being “true”. Whenever you present facts in a speech, you should cite the source of those facts so that the audience believes them (and you) to be credible.
- Expert Opinion – An informative speech is not the time for your personal opinion, that time will come on the persuasive speech. Expert opinion, however, can and should be used in an informative speech. Expert opinion involves using excerpts and quotations from people who are highly respected in the field about which you are speaking. It is important to state the credentials of the person whom you are quoting, if the audience is not familiar with this person. Otherwise, your quote will not have much impact.
Whatever forms of support you may be using in your informative speech, it is important to select those sources carefully. Make sure that you are using up-to-date information. Make sure you are using unbiased sources (these can be especially hard to find on the Internet). And finally, make sure that you are working from a broad base of information. Do not base your entire speech on information found in a single source.
There are a number of social situations in which you might find yourself asked to make a speech. This page examines some of those situations and offers some advice on how to handle them. Speech of Introduction: A speech of introduction is when you are asked to introduce the “main” speaker at the function. Your speech should answer the following questions for the audience:
- Who is the speaker?- Talk about the speaker’s credentials and expertise and why they were chosen to speak.
- What will the speaker be discussing?- Give a short preview of the upcoming speech.
It’s critically important when giving a Speech of Introduction to get the speaker’s name and speech topic correct, naturally. Whenever possible, go over your introduction with the speaker beforehand to avoid potential embarrassment for both of you. Welcoming Speech: The goal of a welcoming speech is to bring people or groups of people together. For example, you might deliver a Welcoming Speech about a new employee in your company. The purpose is to formally introduce the newcomer(s) to the others. This involves telling the audience who the newcomer(s) is/are, where they came from, what they will be doing. Award Presentation Speech: When you are presenting someone with a gift or an award you have two goals to accomplish:
- Discuss the award itself- Who sponsors it, who it is named after, the history of the award, and the requirements to earn it.
- Discuss the winner of the award- Who they are, what they have done to earn the award.
When presenting an award, hand the award off with your left hand and shake hands with recipient with your right hand. Award Acceptance Speech: When receiving an award, your audience will most likely expect you to be gracious and humble. To this end, a good award acceptance speech involves thanking others who made your receiving the award possible. Be sure to thank those involved in helping you get the award, and the giver of the award. Tribute Speech: Situations for a Tribute Speech might be a eulogy at a funeral, or a speech given at a retirement party, or any other occasion where a person is being honored. Basically, sincerity is the key to a good Tribute Speech. You should focus on the positive aspects of the person, tell humorous or otherwise interesting stories about the person, and speak of the person’s accomplishments and admirable qualities. Toast: In most toasting situations (weddings, retirement parties, birthday parties) the person delivering the toast can anticipate that they will be asked to do so. Because of this, and because toasts are usually quite short, a good toast is often written in advance. A toast needs to be positive, and to include words of praise or encouragement for those to whom it is directed.
Tips for Writing an Engaging Speech
Preparing a speech is more than just getting the words down on paper and then reading them to an audience. The most important part of a speech is how it affects the audience and the only way it can affect the audience is if they’re actually listening. Engaging your audience is the key to having a successful speech.
How can you write a speech people will actually pay attention to? Here are some tips:
- Make the speech about the audience. Depending on what kind of speech you’re giving, you want the audience to gain a thorough understanding of what you’re speaking about or you’re trying to persuade them to take action. You might even just be trying to make them laugh. All your efforts should be aimed at making sure they understand what you’re saying.
- Write for your ear. Remember, what you’re writing is going to be said out loud. Sometimes, the way things look best on paper is not the way they’re going to sound best. Practice reading your speech out loud so you can make sure it sounds right. You can even record yourself and make necessary changes after you hear it out loud.
- Work through a rough draft of the whole thing and make edits and polish it later. Your speech will not be perfect at first. Writing the whole thing out first will often help you work out any writer’s block or could even make you see something a little clearer and find a better way to say it.
- Put a little bit of yourself into your speech. Don’t worry about being groundbreaking or unique, but make sure you feel a bit of yourself in your writing.
- Start preparing early. Sometimes, you might have no idea what you’re going to talk about. The more research you do, the more likely it is that you’ll find something really interesting about your topic that can grab your audience’s attention. You’ll also find it’s easier to structure and organize your speech the more you know about your topic.
- Limit the information. You can’t cover everything about a topic in a speech and, if you could, you’d lose the audience’s attention before too long. Try to stick to three main points so your speech is a little easier to follow.
- Write your speech as if it’s meant for one person to hear. This will make it sound more conversational and your audience will feel like you’re really trying to make a connection.
- Try to get the audience involved. There are a lot of ways to do this. You can ask simple questions, ask for volunteers for role playing exercises, or have someone help you demonstrate a concept presented in your speech.
- Pace your speech. Vary sentence and word length so it doesn’t become boring.
- Repeat key words and points effectively. This helps the audience understand what the main take away from your speech should be.
- Ask rhetorical questions as a way of attracting the listener’s attention.
- Tell personal stories and anecdotes that fit into the topic of your speech when applicable. This will make your speech a little more personal and can help you make a better connection with the audience.
- Use quotes when you can. It breaks up your speech and makes it more interesting. Bonus points if the quote is from a famous person that your audience will recognize.
Remember, the most important part of giving a speech is getting your audience to listen to what you’re saying. You want to be interesting enough that they’re actually going to want to hear what you have to say. Just as importantly, you want to make sure that they remember the key parts of your speech. The most effective way to achieve this is through an engaging speech.